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Empty shelves are seen where French products were displayed, after Kuwaiti supermarkets' boycott on French goods, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Hagagy
Up Front

GCC News Roundup: French products boycotted, Qatar formally requests F-35 fighter jets (October 1-31)

Saudi man attacks guard at French consulate

A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on October 29, local police said.

A statement from the Mecca region’s police said the guard had suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the perpetrator.

Kuwait’s retail co-ops boycott French products

Kuwait’s retail co-ops have pulled French products in boycott on October 25 over the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a French school class on freedom of expression whose teacher was then beheaded by a Chechen teenager.

France’s foreign affairs ministry said there had been calls to boycott French products, notably food products, inseveral Middle Eastern countries as well as calls for demonstrations against France over the cartoons.

Qatar apologizes after forced airport examinations

Qatar on October 28 apologized after authorities forcibly examined female passengers from a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney to try to identify who might have given birth to an abandoned newborn baby, even as Australia said it was only one of 10 flights subjected to the searches.

Under pressure after Australia condemned the searches, Qatar said it had begun an investigation into the treatment of the women who were taking Qatar Airways Flight 908 on October 2.

 Fiancée of Khashoggi opens case against Saudi crown prince

The fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and a human rights group that he founded filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court on October 20 with allegations that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered him killed.

The civil lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also named more than 20 other Saudis as defendants. It coincides with complications in the U.S.-Saudi relationship over the 2018 slaying of Khashoggi, Riyadh’s human rights record, its role in Yemen’s civil war and other issues.

Qatar formally requests F-35 fighter jets, Israel objects  

Qatar submitted a formal request at the beginning of October to the United States to buy stealthy F-35 fighter jets, three people familiar with the deal said, in a deal that if pursued could strain U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Israel would oppose any U.S. sale to Qatar, the country’s intelligence minister said on October 11, citing a need to maintain Israeli military superiority in the region.

Oman sends ambassador to Syria

Oman has sent an ambassador to Syria after an eight-year hiatus, the state news agency reported, the latest sign of deepening engagement between Gulf Arab states and Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

The move on October 4 made Oman the first Gulf Arab state to reinstate its ambassador to Syria since the eruption of the country’s ruinous civil war.

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